Windows Essentials: It’s Dead, Jim

Posted on January 11, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Windows with 50 Comments

Windows Essentials: It's Dead, Jim

A month ago, I warned that support for Windows Essentials 2012 was ending. Today, it’s gone. You can no longer download this still-useful suite of utilities.

That answers a big question I had in December: Sure, support was ending, but “will the download disappear once January 10 has come and gone?” I wrote. “I suppose it will.”

Well, the download is gone. So. Yeah.

“Windows Essentials 2012 is no longer available for download,” a support document on the Microsoft website now notes. “Already installed applications will continue to work as they do today. There is an increased security risk associated with use of unsupported products past their end of support date.”

This is bad news on a number of levels, the most obvious being that Microsoft doesn’t have an acceptable replacement for Windows Movie Maker, which was a simple but easy-to-use video editor.

As for the other apps in the suite, most are well past their prime. OneDrive is now included in Windows, of course, and Windows Live Writer is now available in open source (and supported) form, for the few people who need or want to actually install an app to write blog posts. Windows Live Messenger was long ago replaced by Skype, which I think most will agree has not exactly gone well. Hope springs eternal.

Aside from Windows Movie Maker, the biggest loss here, however, is Windows Photo Gallery, which includes an incredible array of functionality that the Photos app in Windows 10 will never duplicate.

Despite this, Microsoft actually recommends the built-in apps in Windows as replacements. That would be hilarious if this wasn’t so bad.

UPDATE: If you move quickly, you may be able to install Windows Essentials 2012 over the web or using this offline installer. I suspect these links will be removed now that I’ve published them, however. Good luck. –Paul

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Comments (51)

51 responses to “Windows Essentials: It’s Dead, Jim”

  1. 5177

    Last year Microsoft did $85bn in revenue and had an operating income of almost $20bn. I do not understand why a company with such resources cannot make a few decent consumer-creative apps for their own platform? I assume that Microsoft still wants companies to make UWP apps? Why not create a world-class consumer video editing app, a genuine replacement for WL photo gallery to show what UWP is capable of.

    • 2394

      In reply to aways987:

      I'll bet other software publishers (with some influence, like an Adobe or a WordPress) exert pressure on Microsoft not to compete with them in their problem domain. You see what happens to something like Windows Mobile when popular software is not (or is not allowed to be) written for an operating system.

  2. 131

    While it's getting better, the Photos UWP app is garbage compared to Photo Gallery.  I just grabbed that offline installer and will hoard it like it's coffee and bullets in a Zombie apocalypse.

    Edit:  And what's with this recent effort to simplify (read:  dumb down) every app we use?  Like Paul said, the UWP app will likely never have the full functionality of Photo Gallery.  This is why I'm stuck in the Win32 world and will get dragged kicking and screaming into UWP...I'm a power user, and I like "power" in my apps.  I haven't seen a single UWP app that I thought could replace its Win32 counterpart.

    • 4567

      In reply to wbhite:

      "what's with this recent effort to simplify (read: dumb down) every app we use?"

      I think it is partly because of the effect of mobile. In other words, the photo viewer on a phone is simple, therefore people surely must want it to work exactly the same way on their PC.  The Photos app on Win 10 is worthless.  I think the Mac OS world is suffering a similar trend if not more so. 

      Movie Maker, iMovie, Photo Gallery, iPhoto, etc. it used to be that these were considered necessary on a PC.  These days I think they believe that nobody makes movies anymore, so why bother. All people do is shoot a short video on their mobile phone and post it to Instagram.    That line of thinking is unfortunate.

      iPhoto, even with all its warts, was a program that if you used it, you used it.  It was my wife's photo tool for 10+ years.  Then Apple replaces it with "Photos."  iPhoto is done.  Just done.  Oh and if you migrate to Photos and don't backup your iPhoto library, you can't go back to iPhoto.  Clever.  Not only does Photos have less functionality, but what it does do, works wildly different.  Search a photo library for keywords in iPhoto and use those same keywords in Photos you get different results.  But hey it looks just like the app on the iPhone, so that makes it better.

      Unfortunate.

    • 5184

      In reply to wbhite:

      I've noticed that trend to dumb down apps, especially with the Photos app.  I had adopted it as my go to app over WPG to adjust lighting and color on the photos I take with my DSLR.  It worked well with my Surface Pro 3 and having the controls on the sides made them very easy to use with touch.  I could sit on the couch comfortably and edit photos on the perfect photo editing device. 

      Since the (December?) update, we've lost functionality around lighting and color.  And the app isn't as touch friendly, requiring too much hand movement.  It has clearly been changed to favor mouse users and those that want very basic editing.  I only noticed this when I picked up a new touch laptop in December.  It had a different version of Photos.  I then realized my SP3 has not been updating apps automatically and has some issue anytime I try to manually update a store app.  I'm glad it did because I don't want to move to the new Photos app.

      I guess I'll go back to Windows Photo Gallery until I can find a better replacement.

      And yes, I did leave feedback on the loss of features in Photos app in the Feedback Hub.  For what it's worth--probably not much.

    • 6453

      In reply to wbhite: And what's with this recent effort to simplify (read: dumb down) every app we use? 

      The usual line I've seen is, "The pre-mobile app was way more than most people needed."

      And I want to respond: "No, what is 'way more than most people need' is app stores with over 2 million apps, none of which completely replace the pre-mobile one, and most of dubious quality while pushing in-app purchases or ads."

  3. 5530

    Movie Maker gets axed, just in time for the Creator's Update! One Microsoft!

  4. 2039

    In reply to Waethorn:

    > But if I want a full, powerful photo app that doesn't cost a second mortgage, I get that from Corel.

    Next time you can check Affinity Photo too.

  5. 9562

    And this is a big reason why many people are resistent to "change" in this current post-7 Metro era: MS constantly removes useful software that people use daily, and either provides extremely weak, mobile-designed "apps" as a replacement, or provides no replacement at all.

  6. 1763

    Paul, what makes you say that the Photos app will never have the functionality of live photo gallery?

  7. 7510

    Does Windows Essentials 2012 install in Windows 10?

    Anyways even if Microsoft removes the links Paul published, you can still download the offline installer for Windows Essentials 2012: Go to https://web.archive.org/web/20160516133511/http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-live/essentials-install-offline-faq . You can even download Windows Live Essentials 2011 for Vista (or the version for XP): https://web.archive.org/web/20140206154154/http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-live/essentials-install-offline-faq

  8. 8647

    Thanks for this article we was wondering about this at work :)

    Also for all good Windows Weekly Episodes

  9. 5234

    At the end of the day (meme alert), I'd rather use Paint Shop Pro for photo editing.  The Windows 10 Photos app is fine for being something small and lightweight, which WL Photo Gallery is not.  But if I want a full, powerful photo app that doesn't cost a second mortgage, I get that from Corel.

    WL Movie Maker hasn't been good since, well, forever.  They had timeline controls, and got rid of those, then they got rid of them and put better publishing options in but didn't have good DVD burning options.  For video, I use Sony Vegas Home Studio.  For making DVD's, I use the bundled DVD Architect Studio.  Both are based on the full professional Sony products that are actively being used by pro movie editors, and always have a presence at NAMM.

    • 2354

      In reply to Waethorn:

      I use PSP 9 for editing.  EVERY version after that has been absolute garbage, and as dumbed down as the new Photos app in W10.  When Corel bought JASC they hadn't had time to fuck it all up before 9 came out, but 10 and upwards show the typical Corel touch, forcing you to use wizards and previews instead of just moving sliders or typing in a number.  Corel wreck EVERYTHING they acquire.

  10. 2354

    Its disgraceful they killed the Essentials package.  NONE of the current mail/video/photo apps are even 10% as capable and it feels like wearing boxing gloves during surgery to use the replacement apps that come with windows 10.

  11. 9935

    One part of Windows Essentials which you didn't mention is Windows Mail. I found this to be the best email program which could handle the Outlook.com connector. Yes, the built in mail programs for Win 8 & 10 can do that as well as Office Outlook, but Office Outlook is much more than most people need, and the built in store apps are just kind of awful and don't offer some features because they don't want to be too overwhelming to the (non-existent) Windows tablet mode users. And in the case of the Windows 10 version are just plain awful to use.

    Fortunately, the Outlook.com web app has gone thru some recent updates making it not only a fine web-based email program, but a great email app.

  12. 412

    Thanks Paul...I grabbed the Offline Installer...it is pretty sad we never got a replacement, especially in the much touted UWP format. There are still people (even a power user like me) who need a Windows "iLife" equivalent.  

    In light of this "Creators Update", you would think this would be something on the horizon. 

  13. onebox18

    do you love to watch latest movies for free at your home? then download OneBox HD Apk For Android to watch latest movies for completly free.

  14. 7063

    For those stuck on the Windows Live Mail client, eM Client is probably the next best thing with full sync support on Google, iCloud, and Outlook/Office365 accounts. Why Microsoft can't build full sync features into Office Outlook is beyond me.

  15. 1043

    The Windows 10 Photos app got worse with the recent UI overhaul, adding more clicks to do simple tasks and adding nothing useful. I'm not looking forward to seeing how they butcher Paint with the "Creators" update. 

  16. 9900

    Bottom line, they took a look at the [cost/benefit] ratio and it "cost" them money to offer it. -- The reason for offering it was to keep the playing field level with Apple. Now that Apple is't doing it, they have no incentive to do it, and every incentive to "make it stop" bleeding cash.

    Its all about Profit and Loss, doing the numbers these days at Microsoft. Stock holders demand Profits not Loss, and not moral statements about what "Microsoft should or shouldn't do.. or what's moral or .. green"

    A better question is why Apple stopped offering their competing product, which is driven by their success with iPhone.. if an App line doesn't fit on the iPhone or the iPad.. it gets jettisoned.. because the Apps on OSX don't drive profits at that company. So thank the success of iPhone and failure of OSX apps for driving Windows Essentials into irrelevancy.

    What happened with Live Writer (everyones favorite blog editor) was truly exceptional.. and a model case of win-win for Microsoft. It got "gifted" to an OpenSource group, so they reaped instant kudos from techies and bloggers alike, and it 'hurt' Google at a criticial time.. when they yanked and re-did their Blog API so Live Writer temporarily stopped working.. but the OpenSource caped crusaders came to the rescue and all is Write with the World again.

    Movie Maker is based on DirectShow technology, always an Orphan at Microsoft and traded from group to group like a roaming Gnome. -- If it did go OpenSource.. and it could.. it could still run on Windows using DirectShow until the long gestating replacement for DirectShow finally makes its appearance.

    In the meantime, by yanking Movie Maker.. they encourage someone to write a modern UWP app to replace it.. or just let it silently die. -- I'd prefer to see it OpenSource'd and then the monicker or name 'Movie Maker' wouldn't be buried in the sands of time.

    MM will age, sooner or later it won't have all the cool plugins and features everyone needs and it might have or develop security problems. Someone has to, or at least 'needs' access to its code. Rather than assuming liability for any future problems (which could cost Microsoft money) Opensourcing it solves a multitude of problems and does a good bit of continuing PR for Microsoft. -- (and) it gets people to "stop using" the old Microsoft version.. so no future liability problems, again win-win for Microsoft.

  17. 8908

    Paul,

    Thank you for posting this install. I noticed it's the identical version 16.4.3528.0331 I had downloaded 2015-06, verifying that it has been untouched at least that long.

    I also thank the many comment writers who have pointed out that 'simplify' almost always means 'dumbed-down.'

    My take on it, from my experience with human factors work in patient safety, is that there's much more profit in the simpler tools because so many more people are simple (not always a compliment, as you've observed). PT, I believe you've commented it's not unlike the automobile market. The Pinto mass market is vastly bigger, but there likely will always be a place for the Mercedes level vehicles.

    I think "real" power apps will always be available for professionals, albeit in niche and somewhat pricey markets.

    As you've commented, there's been a resurgence of the high-end niche market in laptop PCs. Why not in software as well?

  18. 5553

    And according to CNBC Apple is dead too ??

  19. 5394

    Did something happen to convince Microsoft and Apple to stop selling video editing software?

    Apple discontinued their Quicktime program and stopped selling Quicktime Pro.

    The consolation prize with Microsoft is they still have Media Player for Windows so they have 2 video player software (Photos and Media Player) available to use. Media Player can rip music CDs.

  20. 8850

    Hi Paul

    What a pity as this was such a useful suite of apps. Microsoft could have kept WLE suite updated over the past 4 years for very little effort but after WLE 2012 was released they basically couldn't be bothered which is a shame. Agreed movie maker and photo gallery were standout apps that were easy to use and there is nothing comparable in Windows 10 as the apps available are lame at best.

  21. 214

    Thanks for the links.

  22. 565

    Yeah, I will miss Photo Gallery the most. Didn't really use movie maker, but it was nice to have for the rare occasion.

  23. 699

    Thanks for the links at the bottom, I've installed Essentials on all my PC's (just in case!) The only replacement for Movie Maker in the store seems to an $85 application that isn't even made by Microsoft. Why couldn't they just keep those products going? I don't get it. Are they that maxed out on resources?

    It is, indeed, the end of an 'era.'

    • 5184

      In reply to bbold:

      I suspect MS is backing off to try to make Windows more attractive to app devs.  They don't want something that stifles 3rd party interest.

      • 699

        In reply to jwpear:

        The only problem is, the app store pickin's SUCK in this category. So they are leaving us with the new Windows Photos app and taking away everything else? Still don't get it. Live Writer was amazing.

    • 5234

      In reply to bbold:

      1) It doesn't make them any money.

      2) They aren't a media production software company.

      3) There are better products sold by their partners, whose toes they don't want to step on.

      4) Even Apple is toning down their own in-house media production software, so Microsoft is just joining the same club.  They only did it to compete with iLife.

      • 699

        In reply to Waethorn:
        I hear you. I feel if they put enough work into these apps, they could charge for them if they wanted to (in the store.) Microsoft was a media company for years... Encarta, etc. I guess they have decided to drop this business, too. Which only hurts consumers. if there were other viable options in the store, I wouldn't be so hurt by it.
  24. 9943

    Thanks for the offline installer download link, Paul. Downloaded and stored. Appreciated.

  25. 456

    Not being able to install photo gallery for my parents will stink......  They know it, They do no editing use it primarily as a library but  it works for them and any time I have tried to switch them its been a total disaster......  I don't care if they update it, put it in public domain what ever but to just remove it plain sucks.

    I tried to switch them to  picassa a few years back and more recently to the Widnows 10 Photos app..... both did not go well.

     

    Heck for the longest time I gave them Word and Excel 97 because the feature set was stright forward, as soon as the ribbon came along they were lost.

     

    Thanks Paul for listing that off-line installer!

  26. 2039

    In reply to aways987:

    Money is bad way to judge capabilities of tech company. Doing creative software requires... creativity. Microsoft doesn't have a lot of it inside the company. It's slowly changing, and everybody at the company is getting better at it but it's a long process.

    On top of that they are working on graphics editing (new Paint) and music editing app (teased in trailer) for Creators Update, so that's a start. Movie Maker replacement is more complex but I assume they are onto it as well.

  27. randy0331

    Paul, thanks for the article!


    I noticed the links at the end of the article are now unfortunately dead. (As you predicted!)


    Through my searching, I came across a mirror site at winmoviemaker.com - I thought I would let you know in case this is helpful to you and your readers.


  28. 5538

    Definately is a loss, but to say it'll never duplicate it's functionality I think is a little dobutful. I don't think anyone thought when the Photos app first came out it would do anything more than be a photo viewer, but look at it now, has pretty nice basic editing features and OneDrive integration. I think eventually you will see more brought it and actually surpass WPG.

    • 9562

      In reply to SDreamer:

      "Eventually"?  Keep in mind WPG is over 10 years old.  So if Metro/UWP was so great then it should have been easy for MS to at least maintain feature parity if not make more powerful a successor to WPG - and it should have been there in Windows 8/10 from day 1.

      It's becoming very apparent that Metro/WinRT10 aka UWP is simply too lightweight to replace tried and true Win32 desktop programs.  My PC is not a phone, it's time for MS to stop crapping on desktop users with these silly phone apps for devices they aren't selling anyway.

  29. 442

    There are plenty of free 3rd party utilities that are as good if not better than the old Essentials stuff.  Why cry over spilt milk?

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